A steep drop to a creek.
And up a stone step trail.
I lost the trail after reaching the summit of Wenepoykin Hill where it intersects with the Skyline Trail. I saw my first day hiker there and without thinking followed him down the same same path. Not seeing a blue blaze on the descent, and none shortly after, I realized I had taken the Skyline Trail down Wenepoykin. I was still about a mile from the western terminus of the trail and running out of time so I decided to backtrack up the Skyline Trail, pick up the Cross Fells Trail where a left it and return to my car.
Smooth rock slap trail ahead.
A smoother section of trail.
The blue-blazed Cross Fells Trail.
On the return I stopped and talked briefly to another hiker coming towards me from the opposite direction. He told me there was a single lady slipper on the side of the trail just around the bend. Being too concerned with making time had caused me to miss it on my way out. I walked slowly around the bend trying to find the lady slipper among the brown leaves littering the forest floor. Not only did I find it, I also saw two more set back from the trail. It was a reminder that it's not always about making miles. Slowing down and taking the time to enjoy the nature around us is just as important.
Sometimes the smallest things are the most beautiful.
A gentle reminder to slow down or risk missing the forest's hidden gems.